Musselburgh is a historic town in East Lothian, well known for golf, and its racecourse. It’s just five miles east of Edinburgh and is a strong contender for the title of Scotland’s oldest town.

Things to do

The name, Musselburgh, derives from the extensive mussel beds which lie along its shore on the Firth of Forth. The Coat of Arms for Musselburgh is made up of three mussels and three anchors, with the anchors referring to the fishing tradition of the community.

Leisure also became increasingly important to Musselburgh. Proximity to Edinburgh, a nice seaside location, and increasingly good transport links led to Musselburgh’s rapid growth as an upmarket dormitory and resort. A golf course was in use to the east of the town at least as early as 1672, and this has been recognised as the oldest in the world. It may actually date back much further: it is said that Mary Queen of Scots played here in 1567.

The most recent addition to the town lies close to the A1 bypass between Musselburgh and Edinburgh. In 2007 this became the site of a new campus for Queen Margaret University.

Eat

You’ll find a real mixture of eateries in Bruntsfield and Morningside. There is no shortage of good pub grub and there are a lot of brasseries and bistros serving up quality local produce. You also have a small selection of international cuisine to choose from, including Indian and Italian. The area is also a real haven for café lovers with a string of great cafes offering wonderful baking, good coffee and a lovely cup of tea. During the summer you can enjoy your coffee in the sun and watch the world go by.

Nightlife

Find Night Clubs & Bars in Musselburgh on Edinburgh Events. Read reviews and see photos of the pubs, clubs and nightlife venues near you, get directions and opening hours and submit your own review. You’ll find a range of comfy, stylish and typically Scottish pubs and bars in the area and they’ll mainly be populated by locals. A good meal followed by a stroll and a nice pint with a whisky chaser makes for a relaxing evening. If you want some late night revelry then you don’t have far to go.

History

It was first settled by the Romans in the years following their invasion of Scotland in AD80. They built a fort a little inland from the mouth of the River Esk and bridged the river here. In doing so they established the line of the main eastern approach to Scotland’s capital for most of the next two thousand years.

The bridge built by the Romans outlasted them by many centuries. It was rebuilt on the original Roman foundations sometime before 1300, and in 1597 it was rebuilt again, this time with a third arch added on the east side of the river.

The Old Bridge is also known as the Roman Bridge and remains in use today by pedestrians. To its north is the New Bridge built in 1806. This, in turn, was considerably widened in 1925.

Musselburgh has other bridges. Perhaps the oddest is the “Electric Bridge”. This was a road bridge built a couple of hundred yards north of the New Bridge in the 1960s to allow the transport of the turbines to the (since demolished) power station then being built at Cockenzie.

Once used it was offered for a nominal sum to the Town Council, who turned it down. Access to it is therefore barred by gates that are only opened on race days to allow more direct access to Musselburgh Racecourse from the west.

The castle-like Tolbooth which still dominates the High Street appeared in 1590. The earlier tower incorporated at its west end seems to have been built under Dutch influence, probably at the end of the 1400s. This was one of the few buildings in Musselburgh to survive a sacking by Henry VIII’s English army during the “Rough Wooing” in 1544. The late 1500s also saw the building of Pinkie House, to the south-east of the High Street.

By 1690 Musselburgh had a larger population than Leith with a high proportion employed in the area’s woollen mills and coal mines. Meanwhile, a fishing harbour had been established at Fisherrow, to the west of the River Esk.

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